By Alasdair Mackenzie
ROME (Reuters) –
GATTUSO SAYS GOODBYE
Napoli came off worst in the final day battle between three teams for two Champions League spots.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side simply needed to beat midtable Hellas Verona to keep hold of the top-four spot in which they began the day.
The form book suggested that it was a formality, as Napoli had won three consecutive matches, scoring 11 goals in the process, and the visitors were without a victory in eight games.
But the hosts could only muster a 1-1 draw, which allowed Juventus to leapfrog them in the standings thanks to a 4-1 win in Bologna.
Not long after full-time, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis announced that Gattuso was leaving.
“Dear Rino, I am happy to have spent almost two seasons with you. Thank you for your work and I wish you success wherever you go. A hug also to your wife and children,” De Laurentiis wrote on Twitter.
Gattuso succeeded Carlo Ancelotti as Napoli coach in Dec. 2019 and led the club to the Coppa Italia in his first season, before falling one point short of a top-four finish this term.
PIRLO HOPES HE HAS DONE ENOUGH
In Bologna, Juventus players huddled by a pitchside monitor watching the dying minutes of the Napoli game after their 4-1 win.
Confirmation of their Champions League qualification sparked celebrations from the Juve players, but the achievement will not be considered a success for a club that had won nine consecutive league titles before this season.
But Andrea Pirlo, who was appointed without any prior coaching experience at the start of the campaign, hoped he had done enough to stay on after winning the Coppa Italia, Italian Super Cup and reaching the top-four.
“I 100 percent see myself on the bench of Juventus next season, but it is not me who decides,” Pirlo told DAZN.
“Now we will enjoy the result we have achieved and in the next few days I will talk with the club.
“We struggled, we were afraid, but during this end to the season we understood the direction we need to go in and we finished off with a Coppa Italia and Champions League qualification.
“Everything has happened, it was a complicated year but I needed it to grow and improve.”
TEARFUL LUKAKU KEEPS PROMISE
Romelu Lukaku scored his 30th goal of the season in all competitions as Inter Milan marked the day of their Serie A title celebrations with a thumping 5-1 win over Udinese.
The players paraded Inter’s first league trophy in 11 years in front of thousands of fans outside San Siro after the game, and a tearful Lukaku wore a t-shirt featuring a picture of his grandparents.
“I did not want to cry today, to be honest. The photo is of my grandparents and I was thinking about them,” Lukaku told DAZN.
“When my grandfather passed away in 2005, I promised him that I would win something, and I have done it. I am proud of that.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Estelle Shirbon)